Messmate stringybark

Eucalyptus obliqua L'Hér., Sert. Angl. 18 (1788), t. 20 (1792).

T: Adventure Bay, [Tas.], 26 Jan. 1777, D.Nelson s.n.; holo: BM.

E. pallens DC., Prodr. 3: 219 (1828). T: Australia 1823, F.W.Sieber 606; holo: G; iso: NSW.

E. procera Dehnh., Cat. Pl. Hort. Camaldulensis 2nd edn, 6, 20 (1832). T: cultivated, Hortus Camaldulensis, Italy.

E. fabrorum Schldl., Linnaea 20; 656 (1847). T: not designated.

E. heterophylla Miq., Ned. Kruidk. Arch. 4: 141 (1856). T: Tasmania, C.Stuart 2; herbarium of cited specimen not known to us.

E. falcifolia Miq., op. cit. 4: 136 (1856). T: Lofty Ra., S.A., F.Mueller s.n.; holo: MEL.

E. nervosa F.Muell. ex Miq., op. cit 4: 136 (1856). T: Mt Lofty Range, S.A., F.Mueller s.n.; holo: MEL.

E. nervosa F. Muell. ex Miq., op. cit 4: 139 (1856), nom. illeg. non Hoffmanns. (1824). T: Lofty Range, S.A., Nov. 1848, F.Mueller s.n.; holo: MEL.

E. obliqua var. degressa Blakely, Key Eucalypts 195 (1934). T: Ambleside, S.A., 24 Mar. 1923, J.B.Cleland & E.H.Ising s.n.; holo: NSW; iso: AD.

E. obliqua var. megacarpa Blakely, Key Eucalypts 194 (1934). T: near Lake Bonney, S.A., 7 Dec. 1922, J.B.Cleland s.n.; syn: NSW, AD: Millicent, S.A., 5 Dec. 1917, J.M.Black 1: syn: AD, NSW; Millicent, S.A., 8 Dec. 1922, J.B.Cleland 95: syn: AD, NSW.

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Description

Tree to 90 m tall, or sometimes a mallee. Forming a lignotuber.
Bark rough to small branches or sometimes branches < 8 cm diameter smooth; rough bark stringy or fibrous, brown to grey-brown, longitudinally furrowed; smooth bark green or grey.
Juvenile growth (coppice or field seedlings to 50 cm): stem rounded square in cross-section, warty or smooth; juvenile leaves initially subsessile and opposite for 2–7 nodes then alternate, petiolate, pendulous, broadly ovate to lanceolate or falcate, 6–21 cm long, 2.3–8.5 cm wide,base initially lobed to rounded but oblique by ca node 7, glossy, green.
Adult leaves alternate, petiole 0.7–3.4 cm long; blade lanceolate to falcate, 6–22 cm long, 1.5–7 cm wide, base usually oblique, concolorous, glossy, green, side veins acute, sparsely to moderately reticulate, intramarginal vein parallel to and well removed from margin, oil glands island, irregular or obscure.
Inflorescences axillary unbranched, peduncles 0.4–1.5 cm long; buds 11 to15 or more per umbel, pedicels (0.1)0.3–0.8 cm long. Mature buds obovoid or clavate, 0.4–0.9 cm long, 0.3–0.5 cm wide, green to yellow, usually smooth, scar absent, operculum conical to rounded, stamens erect or irregularly flexed, anthers reniform to cordate, versatile, dorsifixed, dehiscing by confluent slits (usually), style long, stigma tapered, locules 3 or 4, the placentae each with 2 vertical ovule rows. Flowers white.
Fruit on pedicels 0.1–0.5 cm long, cup-shaped or barrel-shaped, 0.6–1.2 cm long, 0.5–1.1 cm wide, disc usually descending, valves 3 or 4, near rim level or enclosed.
Seed brown, 1.5–3 mm long, pyramidal or obliquely pyramidal, dorsal surface smooth, hilum terminal.

Cultivated seedlings (measured at ca node 10): cotyledons reniform; stems rounded in cross-section; leaves sessile to shortly petiolate, opposite, ovate-elliptic and discolorous for ca 2–4 nodes then becoming alternate, ovate to broadly lanceolate, 5–17 cm long, 2.7–7.5 cm wide, base rounded to tapering to oblique, apex pointed, glossy, mid-green.

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Notes

A small to tall tree widespread in wet forests and coastal localities from Kangaroo Island in South Australia through southern Victoria, Tasmania and eastern New South Wales, with a few very disjunct occurrences in far south-eastern Queensland extending to Mt Castle at the south end of the Mistake Range. It occurs on well-drained soils.

Eucalyptus obliqua has thick, stringy rough bark over the trunk extending to the branchlets. It belongs in the green-leaved ash group and is notable for the large, obliquely ovate, glossy green, petiolate, pendulous juvenile leaves. Adult leaves are glossy green, buds in 9s to 15s or more, buds pedicellate, clavate. Fruit are usually distinctly pedicellate and barrel-shaped. It is never glaucous.

Eucalyptus obliqua belongs in Eucalyptus subgenus Eucalyptus section Eucalyptus series Eucalyptus, because of a combination of characters: tall tree habit, fibrous rough bark (to the branches), alternate, green juvenile leaves, sparsely to moderately reticulate adult leaves, single axillary inflorescences with pedicellate buds having only one operculum and reniform anthers, ovules in 2 rows, and ± pyramidal seeds.

Eucalyptus obliqua was the first eucalypt species described. It was described in 1788 by French botanist L'Heritier from specimens collected in 1777 by plant collector David Nelson at Adventure Bay, Bruny Island, Tasmania during Captain James Cook's third Pacific expedition with the HM Ships Resolution and Discovery.

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Flowering Time

Flowering has been recorded in January, February, March, May, June, September, October and December.

Origin of Name

Eucalyptus obliqua: Latin obliquus, oblique, refers to the asymmetrical leaves.

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